Life on Mill Creek, part 4

This is an Part 3 of an excerpt from “Bryant, Sullivan, Gossett, Family History” written by Robert Bryant. He has made the full document available online on the Heycuz Archives.


(Deany was born in 1940. He is unmarried and lives in Hendersonville, TN)

Black walnut stains on my hand
Fishing, catching crawdads, seining with Robert and Daddy for minnows for fishing
Blackberry picking for $1.00 per gallon
Walking to Little Rock School with Betty, Sue and Robert
The “blue hole” and the “long Hole”
The black creek
The swinging bridge
Watching TV with Hilda Temple
Staying with Mama and Papa Sullivan, playing in the leaves and eating grapes
Working for Papa Sullivan
Storm cellar, wood cutting and gardening
Pitching ball with Robert
Hog killing and making cracklings
Holding a chicken for Mama while she cut it’s head off
Our first TV
Sleds, bicycles, popguns, slingshots and bb guns
Hitting rocks off the hill toward Temple Barn
Exploring the woods and the creek
Little Rock Church
Basketball goal in the yard
Playing with Billy Marakis and Michael Sulivan
Norman Gordon and Herbert Hooper
Smoking grapevines and rabbit tobacco in a corncob pipe
Skipping rocks on the creek
Ice Boxes and smoke house
First running water in the house, putting dishwater on the grass
Green Persimmons
Creek getting up over the bridge
Old Bess and the dogs “peaky” and “John”
Walking down the road at night alone
Betty, Sue and Robert coming home after they had moved away
Mama walking to the highway to catch her ride and burning paper for heat
Popcorn, roasted popcorn, boiled corn on the cob and hominy
Sound of rain on the tin roof
Snow, warm morning stove, lots of bed cover
Catalogs, newspapers, checkers and puzzles
Push mowing and using the “lively lad”
Mama wanting to move to Wrigley
“Voice of Firestone” on the radio
Cutting wood with the two-man crosscut saw
Having relatives come to visit
Many, many more
I loved that place and still do. Many of my values, attitudes and goals were set there. I’m almost sobbing just reflecting back on the time that I spent on Mill Creek.


(Betty was born in 1931 and with Husband Jack Jones lives in Jonesboro, AR)

Do you remember life before electricity? When the spring at the foot of the hill was the only refrigerator we had and the milk and butter was put there to keep it cool? Do you remember sitting on the front porch on a warm summer evening listening to KatyDids, catching lightning bugs and playing hide and seek in the dusky darkness? Do you remember the battery radio that had to be used so sparingly to keep from running the battery down? We listened to the Grand Ole Opry, and Sue and I would sneak and listen to Ma Perkins and Stella Dallas when we could.

The first house that I can remember is the old two-story house that had been on that hill for many years before I was born. Mama and Papa Sullivan and their family had lived there before we did. It had originally contained a store and post office and the place was called “Bluff Springs”. I can remember sitting with Daddy on the stairs and learning my ABC’s from him. Do you remember the smells of the Black Creek, the smoke house, wet coats around a pot bellied stove in a small school room, mustard plasters, Vick Salve, first rain shower and country ham frying?

How’s your memory of Little Rock Church? It is the second oldest in the county. The oldest is Shady Grove. Most of the members were kinfolks in one way or another, the Gossetts, Sullivans, Thorntons, Bryants, Temples, Rices, McFarlins and others. Do you remember Jim Harrington’s mule that he rode to church? Uncle Jim leading singing? How about big meetings, dinner on the ground, feeding the preacher and the kids waiting until the grown-ups were finished baptizing in the creek. On such occasions we almost always sang “Oh Happy Day”. Do you remember the two large framed scriptures that hung on each side of the building and the two white wicker flower stands that stood on each side of the pulpit? Do you remember Governor Walls, Sam Butts, Thee Bass, Andy Webster, Virgie Webster, Chip Gossett and his T-Model? And do you remember Uncle Charlie Temple shooting a copperhead snake in our woodpile? How about the whistle from the Wrigley Plant, ration books, lye soap? Life on the creek wasn’t very exciting but it was a pretty good life, and I wouldn’t trade it for any other that I know of.


(Sue was born in 1932. She and husband Billy Eubanks reside in Mt Juliet, TN)

All the school children marching in a row to the Little Rock Church when there was a funeral during school hours. We would get to march around and see the corpse and out the door and back to school.
Helping Mama kill and dress a chicken for lunch before we went to church on Sunday morning.
During school recess swinging upside down by our legs on an old tree that had fallen. I didn’t do too much of this as I was ashamed because the others had store bought panties and mine were made of flour sacks.
Meeting the “Dinky” which ran from the Wrigley Plant to the “Johnson Mines” and taking Daddy his lunch. We met him at the foot of the hill going up to the Little Rock cemetery. He would blow the horn on the “Dinky” for us.
Being made to get out of bed and go to the storm cellar in the middle of the night.
Meeting the “peddler” who came around once a week, and trading him a chicken for the items we needed.
Watching all the children come down from Wrigley to go swimming in the creek and Mama not letting us go with them most of the time.
The times that Mama would get up and cook breakfast for us before going to work. When we didn’t have any “Rex” jelly, she would make syrup by boiling sugar and water together. It was surprisingly good.
Going to Grandpa Bryants to spend Saturday nights and riding to church on Sunday morning on the wagon. How did we ever get to church on time?
Going down to Little Rock school building to see my first movie.
Daddy’s getting those switches off the peach tree and striping our legs when we did something he had told us not to do.
In the late summer and early fall hunting for grapes, muscadine and hazelnuts in the woods.
When we returned from a “big meeting” night service, having to go to the spring and get a fresh bucket of cool water so Daddy could have a drink. Of course, I wasn’t interested in a drink of water, especially if I had to go down the hill and get it.
Seeing the summer storms and watching the rain in white sheets come up the valley from the Little Rock area.
Spending many evenings playing cards, “gin rummy” with Hilda Temple when she was sick in bed for so long.
The creek getting up when it rained and “walking the footlog” to get home. Also walking up through the Jimmy Field by the Rice house to catch the school bus.
Chopping cabbage to make kraut on a table under the tree in the back yard and making hominy in a big black wash kettle (which I still have).
Having to do our weekly wash down by the creek, to keep from carrying water up the hill when there was no rainwater.
Carrying jelly and biscuit and egg and biscuit in my lunch to school and wishing I had a bologna sandwich and peanut butter and crackers like some of the other kids.
Meeting the mailman to get the box of baby chicks Mama and Daddy had ordered. Sometimes there would be one or two dead in the box. Maybe we had ordered “dom-a-neckers” and would have a “banty rooster” mixed in with them.
Slipping around through the fields and up the red dirt gulley to catch a group of those “mean boys from Wrigley” in Daddy’s watermelon patch. He sure was proud of me for running them out.
Replanting corn and chopping weeds in the summer. Also Daddy paying us a penny a dozen for the potato bugs we picked off the plants.
Going down to Papa Sullivan’s and seeing Joe Sullivan sitting in the front yard holding a possum by the tail and negotiating with some negroes over the price of it.
Mama would draw a basket of flowers on the pillowcases and I would embroidery them. Sure wish I had kept just one pillow case or dresser scarf.
Having been invited to a big birthday party in Wrigley and not having a present. Mama wrapped 50c up in a box for us to take. Betty and I left before the presents were opened.
Mrs Stella Temple making my dress for graduation from high school, but I still wore some hand-me-down shoes (from Lois I think.) Maybe that explains my buying so many shoes now.
Betty Jean and I getting our first perm by riding to Dickson with Mama’s ride when she was working at a factory, and spending the day. Mama came to see about us on her lunch hour.
Having that old “mustard ointment” rubbed all over my chest when I had a cold, and having to hold my nose to take a dose of castor oil.
Trying to get someone to go to the toilet with us after dark on a cold winter night.
Always wanting a nurse’s kit and bicycle when I was growing up and never getting one. Going to Aunt Mable’s once or twice and getting to ride Catherine and Christine’s bike up and down Greenland Ave in Nashville. I thought they were rich.
Riding the fender or running board of the car up and down the road, and having a briar or limb catch on my clothes.
Going over to Miss Stella’s to borrow a tray of ice so we could have tea before we had electricity or an icebox.
Daddy picking turnip greens before church on Sunday and us washing and cooking them so we could have them for lunch.
Going with Mama to Cochran’s Store in Lyles to buy groceries when she got paid.
I’m thankful for growing up in Hickman County and though we didn’t have everything we needed or wanted, I know now that we were rich.


(Mable died in 1983 and with Husband John T. Cooper is buried in Nashville)

I was born on Mill Creek on February 26, 1903 and went to school and church at Little Rock. Brother Thompson baptized me on August 6, 1917. John T. and I were married on the day before Christmas, December 24, 1924. I now live at the Jackson Park Nursing Home on Gallatin Road in Nashville.

When I was a little girl on Mill Creek, there wasn’t much to do for entertainment. Sometimes we would persuade Papa to take down the bed that was in the living room and we would make a round ring on the floor. Then I’d invite all my little friends to come and we’d dance around on the ring and sing “Old Joe Clark” and “Goodbye Lucy



(Buster died in 1997 and is buried in Memory Gardens, Centerville, TN)

Mama (Addie Gossett Sullivan) and Papa (W.S. Sullivan) spent all their lives on Mill Creek. They never went beyond Nashville, but Papa used to go to Columbia a lot to trade horses and mules. I know they lived in three different houses on Mill Creek. All were near what is now Highway 100. One was with Grandpa (Wiley Sullivan) and Grandma (Malinda Ann Thornton Sullivan). That was just before we moved to where Jake Laybhen, husband of Beatrice Sullivan, now lives. I was about nine or ten years old at the time. By then Papa was working at the plant in Wrigley and the rest of us had to take care of the farm. We had mules, cattle, corn, wheat, sugar cane and a vegetable garden. On a white oak tree next to the creek we had a swing (a chain hung from a limb) and we would swing out from the bank. There were two good swimming holes and we’d dive off the bluff. There wasn’t a lot to do. We had a piano and Mamie Temple would play it and we’d have a big singing at the house on Friday nights.

On Sundays we went to church at Little Rock. It was the biggest church in this end of the county. There’d be a big meeting in the summer with dinner on the ground. We’d go in the wagon and be gone about all day. I don’t remember much about Grandpa and Grandma Sullivan except they were old. Grandma canned a lot. Cecil Hatley and Joe Sullivan lived with them. Grandma died first. Cecil left after he got married and Joe came to live with us after Grandpa died. (Cecil was the son of Grandpa Sullivan’s sister, Narcissas who married John Hatley and died when Cecil was very young). Grandpa Alex Gossett and Grandma Casa Jane Lovell Gossett lived where Bud Sullivan now lives. Grandpa had a blacksmith shop and wheat thresher. He let other people use the thresher for shares of their wheat. It took 12 mules to operate the thresher. There was a mill at Little Lot for grinding flour and meal; a corn mill in Lyles and on Jones Creek; and a flourmill on Lick Creek. We carried the corn and wheat by wagon and the mill operator kept some of the grain for pay. Grandpa Gossett broke his hip when he fell over a dog and he died two or three weeks later. That was about 1932. Grandma Gossett (Jane) went to live with Uncle Jim Gossett. I was in my twenties when Mama and Papa moved to the house where they were living when they died. The place was bought from Frank Allen, the husband of Mama Sullivan’s sister, Lena Gossett.


(Bud died in 1998 and is buried in Memory Gardens, Centerville, TN)

I am Emery (Bud) Graves Sullivan, born on Mill Creek the son of W.S. and Addie Gossett Sullivan. My grandparents were Wiley Sullivan and Malinda Thornton Sullivan; and Alex and Jane Lovell Gossett. I attended elementary school at Little Rock and then went to Hickman County High School in Centerville, playing on the football team. After leaving high school, I went to Old Hickory, TN and worked in the rayon plant and played softball with the company team. After two years I returned to the farm on Mill Creek and worked at the Wrigley Plant until 1941 when I enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force. I was sent to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia and from there to Missouri for boot training and on to Savannah, Georgia where I was put in the 3rd Bomb Group. We rode a troop train for five days to Oakland, California. In California we boarded a boat for twenty-nine days to Brisbane Australia. Then we went by train to Charters Towers in Queenland Australia and stayed there for nine month. After that we went to Townsville and boarded a ship to Port Marshy New Guinea. Later we took a plane over the Owenstaley Mountains (17,000 ft high) to Lae New Guinea and there boarded a ship to Hollanda Dutch New Guinea and from there returned to the States on the Queen Mary.

I was given a twenty-one day leave to come home and then was sent to Miami for twenty-one days and on to Panama City. Later I was sent to Fort Sam Houston, Texas where I received my discharge in September, 1945. I returned to the farm on Mill Creek and married Geneva McCoy. I bought Grandpa Gossett’s (Alex Gossett) farm and we built a new home. In 1952 our son, Michael Graves Sullivan, was born. He now has a little boy named Ryan Matthew born June 29, 1979. I farmed, played baseball at Wrigley, and led the singing at Little Rock Church of Christ for a number of years; and also led the singing at several gospel meeting in the county.

My wife Geneva passed away in 1965, and I married Daisy Kirk in 1966. We are living happily on the farm on Mill Creek and attend Clearview Church of Christ where I still do a little singing. I have cattle and do some farming while Daisy teaches school.


(Ruth was born in 1918. She’s a widow and lives in Vero Beach, FL)

My first memory of growing up on Mill Creek was being put on a wagon by my Uncle Jim Gossett to go to his house while my mother gave birth to my sister Lois. I started to school at age 6 because we lived quite a walk from the one room schoolhouse and had some creeks to cross. What an experience of a one room school teaching 8 grades. We had a big potbelly stove and one corner of the room was stacked with wood. When hot air from that stove got going, the odors came out. Some children wet their pants. The teacher wore the same girdle for a week without laundering it, and I think all of us had smelly feet. I had long hair and it was a chore to get enough water to wash it since we had to carry it from the spring. When it was washed, my sister Bea would lather it up with soap and set waves in it so when it dried I had a good head full of soap flakes that looked like dandruff. Once we had some kinfolks from Nashville for dinner. Mama wanted to make a good impression so she put the butter, which was made pretty by the butter press, with a flower on top in a glass butter dish. This was put in the spring to keep cool until dinnertime. When the company arrived and it was time to eat, Mama sent me to get the butter. I took along a cousin about my age and she insisted on carrying the butter. On the way up the steep hill to the house, she fell down and broke the butter dish. I almost left home, except I was hungry. My folks used to make me accompany Bea and her dates when they went for a drive and I hated that. One fella had a sports car with a rumble seat and they put me in it. I cried and wanted to go home so the fellow got out to hush me. When he did, I grabbed the door and he closed it on one of my fingers. It’s still crooked from that experience. Once I made some chocolate candy and put on one of Mama’s good plates. Then I set it on a fence post that was covered with snow. You can guess the results…I ran and hid in the church building until dark and Daddy came looking for me. My mother had a milk route covering the Wrigley area and I was the “deliverer” and had to keep a record of who owed and how much. One lady got behind on her bill and could not pay, so she put a used bar of Palmolive soap in the bottle of milk and said I brought it to her that way. Of course we never had a bar of “bought” soap in the house. Mama made all of our soap out of lye and ashes. Our greatest joy came from attending church meetings. In the summer they could last three to four weeks. Each night the house would be full and the singing was great. People seemed to be full of love for each other and would really help their neighbor when needed. We used to pick blackberries by the five-gallon buckets, going into the briar patches, getting scratches and chiggers, and when we came home we’d put on an old dress and go to the creek. No one ever heard of a bathing suit.

I sure was glad that I was born into a large family, as there was always someone to get up nights and to the outside toilet with you, especially if you had eaten a big piece of watermelon that day.


(Lois was born in 1925. She is a widow and lives in Centerville, TN)

Going swimming in the 9ft hole in the Black Creek section of Mill Creek, which was caused by pollution from the Wrigley Plant.
Going to the hay field to ride on the wagonload of hay to the barn. My job was to hold the brakes on the wagon when going down the hill. After dinner we would unload the hay up into the loft. I had to sit in the loft and trip the big needle that carried the hay up and let it fall. I still have the needle.
Riding the horse to the field every evening to round up the cows to be milked.
I’ll never forget this. When I learned to drive a car, I had to drive Daddy different places since he was a deputy. One day we were coming down Mill Creek Hill and I said “I’ve got to stop at Mrs Littons and leave a spool of thread.” He said “if you don’t slow down, you can drop it down the chimney.”


As already mentioned there was once a store and post office that were a part of the old homeplace on Bluff Springs. In the 1870’s Moses Thornton, wife Elizabeth Duncan Thornton and their family owned and lived on the place. That is where Moses died in 1874 and Elizabeth in 1879. The Thornton Cemetery is a very short distance to the east and adjacent to the property. In the early 1880’s Samuel Walter Bartlett and wife Susan Ann Allen Bartlett occupied the place. We know this because of newspaper accounts of one of their daughters, Annie, dying and being buried at the little Bartlett Cemetery on the property. Susan was the sister of Clara Allen Gossett, who was my great grandmother on Daddy’s side of the family.

I don’t know how long the Bartlett’s lived there, but apparently W. S. Sullivan purchased it after his marriage to Addie Gossett in 1900. According to Ruth Sullivan, one of their daughters, they lived there until she was about seven years old. Since Ruth was born in 1918, that would have been about 1925. At that point they bought a new home from Frank Allen, W. S.’s Brother-in-Law, and moved into it. The new home was located on down the Creek a mile or so. Bud, Bea and Ruth were still living at home when Papa Sulivan bought the new home, while Mable, Ann Lee, Buster and Nell had probably already left. Lois was born after they moved to the new house. Mama and Daddy acquired the property at Bluff Springs and moved into it about 1931. Just recently I had some correspondence with Mildred Temple Paris who was born in 1916 the daughter of Cliff and Stella and lived just across Mill Creek from the old homeplace. According to Mildred, her father rented the house and part of the land in 1926. Mr. And Mrs Tom Smithson moved into the house in 1926 or 1927 and worked for her father on the property and on the Temple place. Later the Hethcote Family moved into the house. Mildred didn’t know when they moved out but it had to be before 1931. Mr Hethcote was her grandfather; and he along with Tom Smithson cleared the timber from part of the Jones Places west of Highway 100, which her dad Cliff had bought.

Life on Mill Creek, part 3

This is part 3 of an excerpt from “Bryant, Sullivan, Gossett Family History” written by Robert Bryant.

My earliest memory of life on Mill Creek was playing with other children under the old house I was born in on Bluff Springs. During the 1800’s there was a store and post office included with the house. When I was two or three years old, Daddy tore down the old house and built a new one. During the 1940’s electricity came and enabled us to install a pump on the side of the hill to pump water from the spring up to the house. And at this point an indoor bathroom was added to the house, which had a tin roof that made the sound of the rain come in loud and clear. There was a swing on the front porch, and in the front yard stood a large apple tree. Our woodpile consisted of timber that we cut with a two-man cross cut saw and hauled out of the woods by horse and wagon. Deany and I split the wood with an axe and stacked it on the front porch. At one time it was our only source of heat during the long, cold winters. However, it provided little warmth for our bedroom. It was necessary to pile on blankets and quilts, get under them and hope to stay warm enough to sleep. The snows seemed awfully deep then, but it may have been because we were so young. After a good snowfall we’d have a snowball fight, build a snowman, make snow cream and help Daddy track rabbits in the snow.

There was a sage field on the southeastern part of our property, which was called the “Jimmy Field”. Between the house and the field was the barn where we stored corn and kept our mare “Old Bess”. I don’t remember where we got her but she was a good work animal. Deany and I used her to plow the garden and our other crops. At times we rode her bareback without a bridle, which pretty much put us at her mercy, but she was very gentle. However, I do remember getting knocked off her one day when she ran under a low hanging tree limb.

The smokehouse, where meat was cured and smoked after hog killing, was located at the edge of the back yard next to the garden. During the summer there was an iceman who delivered ice to families living on Mill Creek. Almost every week we bought a large chunk and stored it, tightly wrapped, in a hole in the floor of the smokehouse. It was used for tea, lemonade, etc, and sometimes lasted until the next week’s delivery. At the eastern edge of the yard was the outhouse. It sure seemed cold on winter nights when a trip to that place was necessary. The hen house was just across the old Jimmy Field Road from the outhouse. We raised a lot of chickens and one of our chores was to gather eggs every day. Occasionally one of the hens would go under the house to lay eggs, and we had to crawl under it to find them. The chickens also provided food when company came for Sunday dinner and for dinner on the ground at Church. After catching a chicken we prepared it by chopping off it’s head off, putting it in boiling water and plucking out it’s feathers. Our garage was located just northwest of the house at the top of the hill by the driveway coming up from the creek.

From the spring at the bottom of the hill to the banks of Mill Creek was about 50 yards. In order to get across the creek Daddy built a “swinging footlog” over it. Two metal cables were stretched across the creek, anchored by a big tree on the far side and to a tree or some other object on the near side. The cables were two or three feet apart and boards to walk on were put between and connected on both sides. Two more cable were stretched above these and used for handrails. As suggested by its name, it did a lot of swaying while crossing it. It was especially scary to cross when a big rain had caused the creek to rise up near the bottom of it; or when the wind made it sway more than usual.

There are a couple of incidents as a youngster that still stick out in my mind. One summer day I climbed a tree, apparently went to sleep and fell out, knocking myself unconscious and leaving a scar on my forehead. Another time my Sister Sue was playing in a chert gulley behind our house, slid down the bank and cut her leg bad on a stob. And the Christmas that Deany and I got our first bicycle, boy were we on cloud nine. On trips to Wrigley to play baseball, we took turns pedaling and riding on the seat. Going up the steep Wrigley hill was tough, but it was easy coming back down on the way home. Both of us loved baseball and spent all the time we could at the ballpark. We had a spot in the yard next to the smokehouse where we took turns pitching to each other and hitting. There was also a basketball goal in the yard where we played one on one during basketball season. Deany was a very good basketball player in high school. While I liked the game and was fair at it, I never played in high school. But I think my one-on-one games with Deany may have given him some good practice. Other summer activities included working in the field for Papa Sullivan and Bud; and swimming in Mill Creek. Not many summer days went by that Deany and I didn’t get in some swimming, either at the “blue hole” or the “long hole”. Catching crawdads, playing water tag and gigging hogsuckers was always fun. And how could I forget the fishing trips with Daddy to the Tennessee River. Fishing for striped bass was the order of the day, and Deany always caught a lot more than I did. Saturday trips to Centerville with Mama and Daddy, seeing a movie and eating a pimento cheese sandwich at Libery Pharmacy, was enjoyable. Picking blackberries around the fourth of July and fighting the chiggers doesn’t seem so bad now. The berries were worth all the trouble.

When I was growing up at Bluff Springs, we walked through the fields to see Mama and Papa Sullivan several times a week. Upon our arrival, they would be sitting in the living room, Papa in his favorite chair next to the front door beside the wood burning stove and next to a desk where he kept records for the Little Rock Church, as well as his personal papers. Mama Sullivan had her chair on the other side of the stove. While there Mama sat and talked to them while we tried to occupy ourselves. However, we must have gotten involved in the conversation at times because she often told us that we asked too many questions and made Papa Sullivan nervous. Their house was a white frame, two story building sitting at the mouth of a hollow beside Mill Creek. Large shade trees filled the yard and there was a swing mounted between two of them. The house had a screened in porch on the back, and at one end of the porch was a hand operated pump connected to a freshwater well from which their water was drawn. Just outside the porch were several grapevines that were normally loaded with grapes. Papa Sullivan had a dog named “old fuzz” that was pretty old and grouchy; and all the kids were afraid of him. They had several milk cows and I enjoyed watching Mama Sullivan milk them. I tried hard but could never get the hang of it. A family reunion was an annual event during the summer. With all the children and grandchildren the crowds were large and included Bryants, Sullivans, Gossetts, Rices, Cudes, Marakis, Laybhens, Coopers, along with Cecil Hatley and others. Food was spread on tables under the shade trees and everyone ate, visited and reminisced during and after the meal.

Daddy owned several cars during the years, but two of them stick out in my mind. It was probably in the late 1940’s that he bought a studebaker, which at the time was a very prestigious automobile. And about 1954 Daddy bought a brand new red and black Plymouth. By this time I was old enough to drive, and he would sometimes let me take the car on dates. One one of those dates I hung the door on something, slightly scrapping and springing the door. It really scared me but daddy never really said anything about it.

Life on Mill Creek taught me a lot of lessons that I might not have gotten elsewhere. Each day makes me more aware that growing up there kept me physically fit, while the lessons at school, church and home helped maintain my mental and spiritual health. Later in life this would help me to stay on course and not wander too far from the straight and narrow. As I often think about those days, one picture always pops up in my memory. That picture is of a bright, sunny, hot Sunday morning with everyone standing outside the Little Rock Church Building after services. I suppose events of the past week, as well as plans for the upcoming week were discussed. Of course a lot of us kids were ready to go, whether it was home for a meal or to a ball game in Wrigley. I really miss those good old days on Mill Creek when it seemed Life was a lot slower and simpler, unlike the hectic fast paced world we live in today. Now I realize it was truly an enjoyable and tranquil period of time in my life.

Some Families that lived on Mill Creek in the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s

Spike and Reppie Lankford Hooper
Norris Randolph and Mary Lee Warren Randolph
Cherry Gossett and Ella Allen Gossett
Mr & Mrs Johnny Warren, parents of Paul and Hubert Warren
Dude and Johnnie Lee Gordon
Buford “Humpy” Litton and Emma Jane Temple Litton
Cliff and Stella Temple
Clarence Bryant and Mary D. Sullivan Bryant
Jake and Bea Sullivan Laybhen
Clarence Wiliams Family
Jim Gossett and Sadie McAllister Gossett
W. S. Sullivan and Addie Gossett Sullivan
Bud Sullivan and Geneva McCoy Sullivan
Armine and May McCord
Bud and Louise McFarlin
Porter and Docy McFarlin
Percy Gossett and Zippy Thornton Gossett
Less Gossett and Elsie Thornton Gossett
Edd Gossett
John Harrington
George Dotson
Bad Eye Victory
Claggett Victory
Lon Givens
Pig Givens
Thee Bass
Some Families that lived in the Wrigley, TN Area in the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s

White Section

Joe Bradley
C. W. Bentley and Mildred Ferguson Bentley
Buster Bentley (Brother of C. W.) and Nannie Bentley
David Bentley (Son of Buster) and Sue Bradley Bentley(Dau of “Burly” Bradley)
Robert LeeTidwell
Eb Stone
Zertie Choate (Son of Vernie) & Nita Murrell Choate
Gray Family
L. C. Hudspeth
J. D. Bass and Oma Moss Bass
Chester Bass
Vernie Choate and Lula Skelton Choate (Parents of Sandra Russell Bryant)
J. L. Hudspeth (Son of L.C.) & Alvena Choate Hudspeth (Dau of Vernie Choate)
Frank and Bertie Tilley
Prim Luckett
Dee Hatley (Son of Cecil) and Gertie Hatley (Dau of John Greer)
Allen Dickey
Jim Martin (Brother of Frank)
Frank Martin (Brother of Jim)
Guinn Family
Bert Bell
Grady Smith
Arch and Lubell Cochran(Parents of Peggy who married Billy Henley)
Claude Bryant (Son of Jack Bryant) & and Lucille Rich Bryant (Dau of Ira Rich)
Hubert “Pug” England and Georgia Bryant England (Dau of Joe Bryant)
Hershel Jackson and Gracey Bryant Jackson (Dau of Joe Bryant)
Mort McGahey
L. P. Thompson and Lona Thornton Thompson (Dau of Pembroke Thornton)
Ed Lane
Billy Hudspeth ( Son of J. L. Hudspeth)
Jake Wilson
John Brown — Superintendant of the Wrigley Plant
Red Banks
Preacher White & wife Nellie
Grover & Nola Vaughn
Ollie B. Parker
Jesse and Ava Jackson Wright (Dau of Hershel and Gracey Jackson)
Corky Gordon Family
Idella & Annie May McCoy
John Greer
Steve Simpson
Pig Toe Williams
Richard Aldridge
Felix Bradford
Mrs Willie Mitchell Family
Edward Weatherspoon
Van Street
Grady Street
Clifton Thornton (Son of Lewis P. Thornton)
Willie Epps
Raymond Christian
Diles Family
Black Section:

Tink Modena
J. P. Modina
Finas Modena
Andy and Virgie Webster
Charles Frazier
Charlie Sow
Little Bit Modena
Big Bit Modena
My dad Clarence Bryant was a prankster and was always playing tricks on somebody at work, especially the blacks that worked for him and with him. His tricks included rubber snakes, etc. Once Daddy had Mama call Tink Modena to play a trick on him. She said to him “This is the telephone company. We need you to get off the line so we can blow it out”. Tink said “yes mam, yes mam I’ll get right off so you can blow the line out”.


Picking blackberries among the chiggers and snakes
Spending so much time swimming and playing in Mill Creek
Going to a one room school house at Little Rock
Putting up a Christmas Tree at school every year
Going on school picnic every year and roasting weiners and marshmallows
Going to movie on Saturday to see Western Hero
Working on the farm for Papa Sullivan and Bud for $2.00 per day during the hot, humid summer days.
Picking corn by hand

Loading hay on wagons with pitchforks

Putting hay in the barn loft

Using mule and scratcher to plow corn

Hoeing fields of corn by hand

Shooting marbles at school
Going to Church at Little Rock
Big Meetings and Dinner on the Ground

The beautiful singing

The sincere prayers of the men of the congregation

Riding the iron wheel wagon to Grandpa Bryant’s home after church on Sundays
Helping raise a garden each year
Carrying water up the steep hill from the spring
Walking to school, skating on frozen creek, etc
Cutting fire wood for the winter
Walking thru the fields to Papa Sullivan’s home
Family reunions at Papa Sullivan’s and Grandpa Bryant’s
Listening to Joe Sullivan play the harmonica
Playing under the leaves in the fall

Would put God and the Church first in everything
Less complaining about the work I had to do at home
Would listen better and try to understand when Mama or Daddy said “no” to something I wanted or some place I wanted to go.


Watching on TV as Neal Armstrong, an American Astronaut, became the first man to set foot on the moon in 1969.
Invention of Television
Invention of the Computer and the Internet
Fall of Communism and tearing down of the Berlin during Reagan Presidency
Assasination of President John F. Kennedy
Today, September 11, 2001, I began putting the finishing touches on this history. And today one of the most memorabe events in my life took place. Four commercial airplanes were hijacked by terrorists. Two of the planes were purposely crashed into the World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City; while another crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D. C. The fourth which crashed just outside Pittsburg, PA was apparently intended to crash into either the White House, the U. S. Capitol or Camp David. The World Trade Center Towers, which were about 110 stories high, were set on fire by the explosion and crumbled to the ground a short time later. About 40,000 to 50,000 people worked in those buildings, and it is not known at this time how many died, but estimates are about 6,000 — 7.000. Television cameras caught the events in New York. Watching the planes crash into the buildings; watching people jump out windows to their death on the street far below; and watching the buildings collaspe to the street was something I’ll never forget. Remarkably, one man who was on about the 92nd floor rode the building down and survived. Late in the day President George Bush spoke to the Nation by television, assuring everyone that the terrorists did not succeed in their efforts to change the way Americans live, that the Miitary was the strongest in the world and ready to act; and that our economy would not be affected. He also made it clear that the United States would track down those responsible and bring them to justice. And he emphasized that countries that harbor terrorists will be treated the same as the terrorists themselves. He further stated that this was the beginning of a war on terrorism worldwide. This was truly a black day for the United States, but the citizens of this great country will no doubt unite, and the nation will be stronger than ever as a result of this unity.

Life on Mill Creek, part 2

This is a part 2 of an excerpt from “Bryant, Sullivan, Gossett Family History” written by Robert Bryant.


The Little Rock Church is located 2.1 miles from where Washer Road intersects with Highway 100, and is 1.2 miles south of Wrigley. The homes of W. S. Sullivan, Jim Gossett, Bud Sullivan and Clarence Bryant were within sight of the Church and the school. High on a hill just to the west and overlooking the beautiful scenery below stands the Little Rock Cemetery. Though not certain when it was started, there are Beasley’s buried there that died during the early and mid 1800’s. They would have been contemporaries of some of my ancestors, such as W.T. Allen, John Parham, Mary Gossett, Moses Thornton, James Lovell, Hezakiah Bryant, William Gossett, Meredith Gossett and others. During the 1980’s I did a lot of research on Hickman County, TN Cemeteries, including Little Rock, by visiting and photographing them. As a result of that research, I put together a four volume photo album, including a descripton of their locations and directions on how to get there. The album covers a large portion of cemeteries located in the county.

Mill Creek flowed gently thru the community from it’s northern beginning, all the way to the beautiful Piney River in Pinewood. From the Little Rock Church building back to the north and east, the creek was clear and clean. However, just behind the church building a polluted stream of water coming from the Wrigley plant emptied into and merged with those clean waters, polluting the creek from that point all the way to Piney River. The pollution stemmed from all the waste chemicals it carried from the plant. In the early 1960’s, when the plant ceased operations, the water became clear and clean along its entire length. Mill Creek Road begins north of the Rocky Valley Community and runs mostly parrallel to the creek passing west across Highway 100, past our old homeplace, thru the Little Rock Community, the Bells Branch Community, and ending where it intersects with Highway 48 near Pinewood.

On Sunday mornings nearly everyone in the community thought about nothing but going to church at Little Rock. Some of the families were Bryants, Gossetts, Sullivans, McCords, McFarlins, Dotsons, Victorys, Givens, Temples and Rices. On most Sundays Uncle Jim Gossett or Bud Sullivan led the singing, which was always beautiful with a lot of good bass, tenor and alto. My Daddy was a good bass singer, Sadie Gossett wife of Jim Gossett was a good alto singer, Cecil Hatley was a good tenor; and none of them held back anything when it came to singing. Occasionally, Deany or myself would lead singing. He and I were taught to read notes and music by Daddy and Mr. Claude Russell a well known song leader in the county. There were two amen corners in the building, one for the women and one for the men. Some Sundays there was preaching, while on others someone would read from the Bible. When the men led prayer, most of them knelt down on their knees. I remember so well that when Mr Percy Gossett led prayer, he would always include “we are not to be heard for long prayers and much speaking unto thee”. Sunday School Classes followed the Service, but not every Sunday.

Almost every summer there was at least one Gospel Meeting and Dinner on the Ground, and some years there were two. Crowds were always big with plenty of good food. Each night we made the trip down Mill Creek for the services. In 1950 at age thirteen, I was baptized by Brother Larimore Austin who was holding a meeting there. The baptism took place up the creek from the Church just below the “blue hole”.

Little Rock Church of Christ

Following is a summary of the Gospel Meetings at Little Rock Church of Christ during the first half of the 1900’s and the responses during those meetings. Many of those people lived on Mill Creek and a good number of them were relatives. But there were also many who came from neighboring communities.

July, 1907 – Will Hassell, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Mary Bradford None
Rosa Gossett Bryant (Mother of Clarence Bryant)
Connie Potts Gossett (Wife of Gentry Gossett)
William S. (B) Sullivan (Father of Mary D. Sullivan Bryant)
September, 1907 – Brotherford Buford, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Eva Allen None
Jasper Bates
Mrs Bozard
Jones Collins
Mrs Jones Collins
Gentry Gossett (Son of Claiborne & Mary P. Randolph Gossett)
Mrs Bet Hall
Ray Hamburg
Edith Lyell
Will Morton
Tossey Moss
John V. Thornton (Son of J. Francis Marion Thornton)
Nettie Thornton
Raymond Thornton
Susana Thornton
August, 1918 – L. B. Thompson, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Hester Bibbs Walker Thornton (Son of John V.)
Ercy Brewer
George England
Earl Lawson
Lee O. McCallister
Julia Smith
Jimmy Waddell
Walker Warren
August. 1920 – Sam Pittman, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Eunice Bradley Fosie Fitts
Ewell Coleman Jess Hooten Lida Haskins Mrs Jess Hooten
Idella Fitts Mort McGahey
Edd Gossett (Son of Claiborne Gossett) Mary Thompson
Emory Gossett Birdie Thornton
Vera Horner Ella Thornton (Dau of Lewis P.)
Dewey Keys Mollie Truett
Willie Lavender
Carter Thornton (Son of John V. Thornton)
Mattie Vaughn
September. 1920 – Sam Pittman, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Alene Beasley (Wife of Coy Houston) Roof Coleman
Sim Hudgins Clara Allen Gossett (Dau of W.T.)
Annie Lee Sullivan (Daughter of W. S. Sullivan)
July 1927 – L. C. Jones, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Chester Bass Slaydon Leathers
Mrs Will Bentley Ellis Randolph (Father of Norris)
A. B. Craft
Tisy Dotson
May Anna Dotson
Hubert England (Husband of Georgia Bryant England)
Katy England (Wife of Ellis McFarlin)
Thelma England
Mary D. Sullivan (Daughter of W. S. and Addie Gossett Sullivan)
Emma Jane Temple (Daughter of Charlie & Susanna Gossett Temple)
Eva Victory (Wife of Bad Eye Victory)

August, 1931 – Granville Tyler, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Harold Bell (Son of Bert Bell) None
Mrs Carter Bishop
Mildred Gossett (Daughter of Percy & Zippy Thornton Gossett)
Tommie Gossett (Daughter of Percy & Zippy Thornton Gossett)
Lucille Hatley (Daughter of Cecil & Maggie Harrington Hatley)
Junior Hudgins
J. T. Martin (Son of Jim Martin)
Mrs Murphy
Lula Randolph
Gertrude Stinson
J. B. Walls
Woodroe Walls
August, 1933 – Brother Totty, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Elizabeth Coleman Mattie Bradford
Frances Craft Georgia Victory Bryant (Wife of Russell B)
Opal Gossett (Dau of Less Gossett) Russell Bryant (Son of Hezekiah3)
Reppie Lankford Elbert Foster
Prince Lyle
Raymond Lyle
Alice Victory (Wife of Jack Gossett)
August, 1933 – Brother Bachman, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Alvin Dotson (Son of George Dotson) Edward Bass
Louise Givens Eddie Bryant (Dau of Hezekiah B.)
Douglas Gossett (Son of Jim & Sadie Gossett) Daisy Potts Givens
Oscar Mc Cord Pearl Givens
Clint Powell Lawson Williams
Mrs Odell Powell
Viola Powell
Marie Randolph (Daughter of Ellis Randolph)
Mrs Ruth Thompson
William Thompson (Son Of L. P. and Lona Thornton Thompson)
August, 1935 – Granville Tyler, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Mary Ollie Bass E. Bass
Bobby Boyd (Daughter of Robert Boyd) Edward Bass
Claude Bryant (Son of Jack & Ada Clark Bryant) Lorraine Bass
Arch Cochran Rachel Bentley
Raymond Christian Reed Cochran
Susie Marie England (Wife of Everett Gossett) Adell Epps
Louise Harvill Everett Gossett
Ed Lane Irene Neely
Mrs Maude Grady Smith
Scott Short Allene Street
Wilma Short John V. Thornton (Son of J.F. Marion)
Lucille Stinson
Bertha Temple (Dau of Harry and Stella) Pembroke Thornton (Son of J.F. Marion)
Dorris Thornton Birdie Tilley
Stella Tilley Thornton Warren
Ruby Warren Clyde Williams
Mrs Paul Winn
1938 – Frank Pack, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
May Baggett Daisy Dotson
Nancy Bates Mrs George Dotson
Johnnie Dotson Pearl Givens
Wayne Dotson Cecil Hatley (Son of Cecil)
Glen Givens Taylor Hatley (Son of Cecil)
Cecil Hatley, Jr (Son of Cecil) Gracey Jackson(Dau of Joe Bryant)
L. Landrum Amy Parker
James Landrum Walter Parker
Birdie Littleton Joe Sullivan (Son of Willey Sullivan)
Clay Nicks Hollis Thornton
Christine Parker Bernice Vaughn
Mildred Porter Lawson Williams
Bud Sullivan (Son of W. B. & Addie Gossett Sullivan)
Lizzie Sullivan
Pearlie Sullivan
Hilda Temple (Daughter of Cliff & Stella Parker Temple)
Edwin Tilley
Howard Vaughn
Valley Waters
July, 1939 – Frank Pack, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Bula Dotson (Daughter of George Dotson) John Harrington
Eula Dotson (Daughter of George Dotson) Mrs Arch Littleton
Myrtle England
Charley Givens
Dollie Ruth Givens
Morrell Gossett (Daughter of Jim & Sadie McAllister Gossett)
Dorothy Holt (Daughter of Clarence Holt)
Margie Hudgins
Irene Jackson (Daughter of Herschel & Gracey Bryant Jackson)
Geraldean Landrum
Lois Littleton (Daughter of Arch Littleton)
Louthell Lynn
Lois Sullivan (Daughter of W. S. & Addie Gossett Sullivan)
Ruth Warren
July, 193- – Brother Bachman, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
None Edward Bass
Herbert Craft
Annie May Dotson
(Son of George Dotson) R. C. Dotson
William McCord
Susana Thornton
August, 1939 – D. Ellis Walker, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
None Sewell Anderson
Daisy Potts Dotson
Mrs Will Martin
Lawson Williams
July, 1940 – Frank Pack, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Dilla May Bates Nannie Heathcoat
Marie Givens Monroe Potts
Lucille Givens Mrs Monroe Potts
Warner Holt Joe Sullivan(Bro of W.B.)
Rolland Landrum
Christine Lowe
Mrs Dewey Lowe
J. C. Lynn (Son of Calvin Lynn)
Mr Perigo
Floyd Potts
Walter Potts
Wesley Potts
Jack Temple (Son of Cliff & Stella Parker Temple)
Clifton Thornton
Edith Thornton
August,1941 – Leonard Tyler, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Ethel Divinny Dennis Bishop
Catherine Givens Nellie Bullion
Bernice Holt (Daughter of Clarence Holt) Mrs Louis England
Delbert Holt (Son of Clarence Holt) Johnnie Lee Gordon
Margie Holt Mort McGahey
Math Holt (Husband of Pearl Bryant) Bessie McGahey
Elton Johnson Dorris Sanders
Audrie Lynn Grady Smith
Laws Lynn Claggett Victory
Dorothy Sanders Mrs Claggett Victory
Annie Lou Vaughn Henry Vaughn
Laverne Waters
Eugenia Williams
August,1943 – Leonard Tyler, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Arthur Coates Joe Dotson
Alvin Herron Charley Givens
Mrs Monroe Luther Mrs Elbert Gossett
Frances Plunkett
Mrs Sam Stone
Mrs Joe Dotson Miss Victory
August,1946 – Jack McElroy, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Dotson None
Arnold Johnson (Son of Allene Johnson)
Mary Lou Johnson (Daughter of Allene Johnson)
Paul Litton (Son of Buford & Emma Jane Temple Litton)
September,1947 – B. B. James, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Richard Bridgette Wanda Bentley
Paty Bryant (Son of Eddie Bryant Agnes Gossett
Delpha Parker Douglas Gossett (Son of Jim)
Dorothy Randolph (Daughter of Norris & Mary Lee) Mary Littleton
Jesse Wright (Husband of Ava Jackson Wright) Vernon McGahey
Ollie B. Parker
Joe Sullivan
James Victory
Sutton Warren
August, 1950 – Larrymore Austin, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
David Bentley (Son of Buster Bentley) Dillie Mai Mallory
Robert Bryant (Son of Clarence & Mary D.) Joe Sullivan
June, 1952 – Bill Thurman, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
None None
September, 1953 – Glen Mayfield, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Deany Bryant (Son of Clarence & Mary D.) None
Martha Rice (Daughter of Walter & Nell Sullivan Rice)
Christine Victory (Daughter of Claggett Victory)
August, 1955 – Carmack Skelton, Preacher
Baptized Reclaimed
Jean Gordon (Daughter of Dude & Johnny Lee Gorgon) Shirley Gossett (Daughter of Jack & Alice Victory Gossett)
Homer Malugin
Robert Poor
Rosa Rice (Daughter of Walter & Nell Sullivan Rice)
Dorothy Victory (Daughter of Claggett Victory)
Although I have no record of his holding a meeting at Little Rock, it is known that William Nicks was one of the early preachers on Mill Creek.
Some of the Bryant Ancestor Famililes who attended Church at Little Rock were:

Hezekiah Bryant**
W. S. Sullivan**
Jim Gossett
Percy Gossett
Less Gossett
Edd Gossett
Joe Sullivan
Cecil Hatley
Stella Temple Family
One of the fondest memories of the late 1940’s was going with Daddy, Deany and Cecil Hatley to ALL NIGHT SINGINGS at the old Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The show started about seven or eight o’clock and continued most of the night. We usually left by two or three in the morning and drove home, sometimes stopping at the old Lampley’s Café in what is now the East Community, for something to eat. Performers at those singings included the Happy Goodman Family, The Rangers, The Statesman, The LeFevors, The Harmoneers and the Spear Family. Daddy enjoyed good gospel singing as much as anyone. In fact, back in those days we did some singing as a quartet ourselves, with most of it at churches that held singings on Sunday afternoons. I sang lead, Deany alto, Cecil Hatley tenor and Daddy bass.

Our home was located on a bluff overlooking Mill Creek, about a half mile down the creek from where it flows under the bridge on Highway 100. Just under the bluff and across Mill Creek stood the home of Harry and Stella Temple. My grandparents on both sides of the family lived relatively close to us; the Sullivans about a half mile further down Mill Creek, and the Bryants in Barlow Hollow about three or four miles away. Almost everyone on the Creek knew everyone else. All of the kids attended Little Rock Elementary School, and most of them and their parents attended the Little Rock Church of Christ. It seemed like everyone was a member of one big family.

Life on Mill Creek

by Robert Bryant

This is an excerpt from “Bryant, Sullivan, Gossett Family History” written by Robert Bryant.

Mill Creek and surrounding communities, such as Rock Valley on the east; Little Rock on the west; Wrigley, Lyle, and Bon Aqua to the North; Pinewood, Vernon, Nunnelly and Coble further west; and Little Lot, Hassel’s Creek and Lick Creek to the South and East, were bustling communities from the early 1900’s to the 1950’s. The Tennesse Products and Chemical Plant at Wrigley was the source of jobs for many of the men of the Mill Creek community, including my father. Most of the other families made their living by farming. The Little Rock Church of Christ, the Rocky Valley Church of Christ and the Wrigley Church of Christ were the prominent churches in the area; and there were also Elementary Schools located in each community. Some of the larger communities also had Junior Highs, which went thru the 10th grade. It seemed that life on Mill Creek always centered on church, family, work and school. In gathering information for this publication, I thought it fitting to include memories that family members have expressed about growing up on Mill Creek. Those memories were put together as part of a William Stephenson Sullivan family reunion in the early 1980’s at Montgomery Bell State Park in Dickson, TN; and were written by myself, my brother Deany, my Sisters Betty and Sue; and some of the brothers and sisters of my mother. Some of the detail may not be particulary interesting to many readers, but is included because it paints a clear picture of what it was like to grow up in a small rural community in the early to mid 1900’s. Following is the text of those memories as written:


(Robert was born in 1937, and with wife Sandra lives in Centerville, TN)

I was born the first son and third child of Clarence and Mary D. Sullivan Bryant on June 16, 1937 at Bluff Springs on Mill Creek. The day of my birth Mildred Temple Paris, daughter of Cliff and Stella Temple who lived just across the creek, and her husband Robert Paris came to visit. Mildred suggested to Mama and Daddy that they name me after her husband Robert and they did. My memories of growing up on Mill Creek are clear and it seems just like yesterday. Almost everything revolved around Church, Family, Work and School. During the week we worked and went to school; and on Sundays we went to church. During that period of my life World War II was fought and won, and the Yankees were winning baseball’s World Series. The first thing I remember hearing on the radio was a Yankee baseball game. Sometime in the 1940’s electricity and running water were installed in our house, allowing us to build an indoor bathroom. Betty finished high school in 1948 while Sue graduated in 1950. Deany was born in 1940 and started to school about 1946.

Thinking about those early years now, I don’t remember Mama or Daddy ever talking about the Depression and how it affected them. It must have been difficult, because all four of their children were born during that period of time. Betty (1931) and Sue (1932) were born in the early stages of it, while Deany (1940) and myself (1937) were born near the end of it. Perhaps I was too young to remember, but I can’t recall hearing anything said about it, even when I was older. Growing up on a place like Mill Creek in the 1940’s was a unique experience that kids raised in the city didn’t have. It taught me that you have to earn your way in life and nothing is given to you on a silver platter. And that’s the way it should be.


Daddy worked for Tennessee Products at Wrigley, and Mama worked at Southern Sportswear and later at Genesco in Centerville. We didn’t have much money , but were probably better off than many other families on the creek. They both worked hard and gave us all the things we really needed. Although we did a little farming, Daddy didn’t have much time to devote to it because of his other job. We raised a garden every year and had plenty of food from it. As teenagers, Deany and I often worked on Papa Sullivans and Uncle Bud Sullivan’s farms for $2.00 per day. We had a good team of mules to ride to the fields early in the morning, to the house at noon to eat, and back to the fields in the afternoon. The work included plowing, planting corn, picking corn and hauling hay. Picking corn was a hot job, very rough on the hands, and the person who got the “down row” was likely to have a stiff back as well. But from first hand experience I can tell you the hottest job had to be taking in hay. At that time some farmers were beginning to use hay bailers, but neither Papa Sullivan or Bud had one. We used pitchforks to throw the hay on the wagon, and from there it was taken to the barn to unload. A large “hay needle” was inserted into the hay to lift it up into the barn. At that point it was necessary for someone to be up in the loft to guide the hay into the back corner, and boy was it hot in that barn loft. My Aunt, Lois Sullivan Cude, has the old hay needle we used back then to lift the hay. At noon Mama Sullivan always had a good meal prepared for us. Most afternoons the weather was hot and humid, so after work Deany and I headed for the creek and the swimming hole. This served two purposes; cooling us off and at the same time giving us a good bath.

In addition to working for Papa Sullivan and Bud, our work at home included tilling the ground for the farming and the garden; weeding the garden, harvesting the crops, cutting wood, feeding the chickens and hogs, carrying water from the spring and so many other things I can’t even think of now. Bringing water up the big hill from the spring wasn’t any fun, but the water was nice and cool right out of the hill. Back in those days, most of us probably drank out of the same dipper, with no worries about spreading germs. This was particulary true when drinking at the spring itself, because most of the time there would only be one container to use. When we did get sick with a cold, flu, etc it was often “on with the Mustard Plaster”, or “down with the Castor Oil”. Anyone who hasn’t experienced those treatments, doesn’t know what he/she has missed. Hog killing time was around Thanksgiving each year. I can still see daddy carving up the meat into hams, shoulders, ribs, etc., salting them down and getting them ready for the smoke house. Around July 4th every year was blackberry picking time, and there was always a good crop of them on our property. It was so hot that time of the year we usually left very early in the morning and got our buckets full before it got too hot. Of course chiggers, ticks and snakes had to be dealt with, but we managed to survive them. The work really seemed hard back then, but now I realize it wasn’t too bad. One of the benefits that came from it was good physical conditioning in my younger years.


Three of the earliest known schoolteachers on Mill Creek, long before my time, were Moses Thornton, George Ingram and Wesley Irwin. This was in the early 1800’s when the county was in the early stages of settlement. In all my research I haven’t seen anything that gives an indication of where the schools during that period were located, but I have a feeling they were in the same general vicinity as in my school days.

In 1943, I entered school at Little Rock in a small block building that had just been built. It could be made into two sections by closing curtains across the middle of the room. The school was located about a half mile down Mill Creek southwest of our home and sat next to the Little Rock Church of Christ. Betty and Sue finished the eighth grade there, while Deany and I attended there a few years before transferring to Wrigley. During the winter the school was heated by coal, but there was no air conditioning during hot months. One of the teachers in the 1940’s was Geneva McCoy Sullivan, the wife of uncle Emery “Bud” Sullivan. She was very strict, and when we did something wrong she punished us by paddling the palm of our hand with a ruler. Other teachers I can recall were Mildred Casey, Zelma Pennington, and Mrs McGahey. Betty told me that when she was in school, Alene Beasley Houston was a teacher there. And Aunt Ruth Sullivan Morton told me recently that Jewell Beasley, Alene’s sister, also taught there at one time and boarded in the Sullivan home. Ruth said Jewell helped her deliver milk to Wrigley.

Each year at Christmas someone cut a large cedar tree for the classroom. We didn’t exchange many gifts, but there usually was a good supply of apples and oranges; and it was a time we all looked forward to. Another annual school event was a picnic held somewhere in the community off school property, at which hot dog and marshmallows were roasted over an open fire. I can also remember cake walks being held there. Between the school building and the Little Rock Church of Christ Building was an outhouse used by the students. The thing I remember most about it was getting hurt while playing inside it. One of the boys daring feats was jumping from one of the seats and grabbing a rafter running across the top of the building. More than once I missed the rafter and hit the floor on my back. Playing marbles was a lot of fun, but baseball was my favorite. Seems like nearly everyone enjoyed the game and most kids, boys and girls alike, participated. The field was in front of the school building and was rough, with big rocks used for bases. The outfield was next to the church building, and many balls were banged off the front of it during our games. To get to school, we walked about half of a mile down Mill Creek, crossing it a couple of times along the way. It wasn’t unusual for the creek to dry up in the summer and freeze solid in the winter. Some of my fondest memories are of skating on the frozen water on the way to school. During the summer, movies were shown almost every week at the school and consisted mostly of westerns with stars such as Lone Ranger, Sunset Carson, Hopalong Cassidy and Lash Larue. During the 1940’s a large passenger plane crashed on a hillside a couple of miles down the creek from the school, killing all the people on board. The students at Little Rock Elementary were allowed to go down and view the wreckage from a distance. We didn’t know much about airplanes then and didn’t quite know what to make of the tragedy. The Dude Gordon family lived about a half mile up Mill Creek next to Highway 100 in the house where George Litton had priviously lived. The Gordon children, Thurman, Martha, Jean and Norman were about the same age as Deany and I, and we spent a lot of time playing with them, since they were the closest family with children our age. During our early years, Buford “Humpy” Litton and Emma Jane Temple Litton lived between our home and the Gordons. They had a son Paul and a daughter Devetta. Emma Jane was the daughter of Charlie Temple and Susie Gossett Temple.

In 1951 there was a huge ice storm that lasted several weeks and closed all the schools. Trees and power lines were down everywhere from the weight of ice, and the community was practically paralyzed. In 1977 snow and ice covered the ground during January; and school was out the entire month. The temperature never got above freezing for several weeks. There was another bad ice storm during the mid-1990’s that shut down just about everything for two or three weeks. Many residents in the East Hickman Community were without power for several weeks. The damage was greater than the 1951 storm because there were more power lines to fall and more people depended on electricity as their source of energy.

Kids I went to school with and played with on Mill Creek

Thurman Gordon – Son of Dude and Johnnie Lee Gordon

Martha Gordon – Daughter of Dude and Johnnie Lee Gordon

Jean Gordon – Daughter of Dude and Johnnie Lee Gordon

Norman Gordon – Son of Dude and Johnnie Lee Gordon

Hubert McGahey – Son of Mort and Bessie McGahey

Paul Victory – Son of Claggett Victory

Hillard Tidwell

Roy Stone – Son of Sam Stone

Ray Edward Dotson – Son of George Dotson

J. W. Dotson – Son of George Dotson

Arnold Johnson – Son of Alene Johnson

Mary Lou Johnson – Daughter of Alene Johnson

Kenneth Williams – Son of Clarence Williams

Velma Victory – Daughter of Ellis “Bad Eye” Victory

Opal Victory – Daughter of Ellis “Bad Eye” Victory

Paul Staggs – Son of Lummy Staggs

Ralph Givens – Son of Lon Givens

Herbert Hooper – Son of Spike and Reppie Lankford Hooper

Earl Hooper – Son of Spike and Reppie Lankford Hooper

Froggy Hooper – Son of Spike and Reppie Lankford Hooper

Kids I went to school with in Wrigley

Preston Bradley – Son of Joe Bradley

Hugh Bradley – Son of Joe Bradley

Don Luckett – Son of Primm Luckett

Bobby Bass – Son of J. D. and Oma Moss Bass

Harold Choate _ Son of Vernie and Lula Skelton Choate

Pud Bentley – Son of C. W. and Mildred Ferguson Bentley

James “Hootie” Bentley – Son of C. W. and Mildred Ferguson Bentley

Paul Booker – Son of Opama Bell Booker

Charles Jackson – Son of Herschel and Gracey Bryant Jackson

Billy Vaughn – Son of Grover and Nola Vaughn

Paul Vaughn – Son of Grover and Nola Vaughn

Junior Vaughn – Son of Grover and Nola Vaughn

Ray Estes – Son of Rusty Estes

Curtis Thornton

Nadine Thornton

Wayne Epps – Son of Willie Epps

Delman Ray Gray

Geraldine Griffin – Daughter of Hubert “Pop Eye” Griffin

Marjorie Griffin – Daughter of Hubert “Pop Eye” Griffin

Nina Jo Bentley

Jack Bentley

Marie Martin – Daughter of Jim Martin

Patty Martin – Daughter of Frank Martin

Patsy Bass – Daughter of J. D. and Oma Moss Bass

Christine Hudspeth – Daughter of L. C. Hudspeth

Don England – Son of Hubert “Pug” and Georgia Bryant England

Norman England – Son of Hubert “Pug” and Georgia Bryant England

Johnny Greer – Son of John Greer

Dutch Dile – Son of Fred Dile

Ralph Bass – Son of Chester Bass

Martha Bass – Son of Chester Bass

Charles Thompson – Son of William Thompson

Teachers at Wrigley included: Jesse Wright, Principal, Mr. G. O. Milam (Principal following Jesse Wright), Mrs G. O. Milam, Mrs J. J. Weatherspoon, and Claudie Luther, wife of Bryan Luther. When I was in school at Wrigley, basketball was played on an outside dirt court. A Gym was built a few years later, but both it and the old school have since been demolished. The school was located on a hill just southwest of where the methodist community cemetery now stands and Northeast of the Wrigley Church of Christ. The Louis P. Thompson’s grocery store was beside the road just east of the cemetery. Next to the grocery Louis’s son William Thompson operated a barbershop. The Wrigley commisary was located on the hill just above the Tennessee Products Plant, and just across the road from the Bon Air Hotel. Buster Bentley operated another grocery store at the top of the Wrigley hill leading down to Highway 100. Lacy Lyell ran a grocery on Hwy 100 where the northern end of Wrigley Road intersects the highway. The Wrigley Church of Christ stood high on a hill just across a hollow from Bentley’s grocery. The Ball Park, which still stands, was built in the 1940’s right in the middle of Wrigley on top of a cinder pile from the plant. This is the land that my great grandfather, Rueben Bryant, farmed during the latter part of the 1800’s. South of the Wrigley Plant going toward Little Rock, was a bottom land area thru which the black, polluted water from the plant flowed. This area was known affectionately as “Black Bottom”. Some Diles families and the Lummy Staggs family lived in this area.

Hickman County High School

During my high school days, the school was located on a hill overlooking Duck River, a couple of blocks off the town square, next to the old Fairview Acadamy. About 1955 a new gymnasium was built on the site, replacing the small one that had been there for many years. In 1976, when I was chairman of the School Board, a new high school facility including a gymnasium and football stadium was constructed about 3 or 4 miles north of town and a quarter mile or so East of Highway 100. A new baseball field was added a few years later. When Sue and Betty attemded school a Mr. Edwards was the Principal. By the time I arrived, he had been replaced by Mr. Wilton Roberts. Some of my classmates there were Britt James, Jean Bryant, Becky Jones, Carolyn Stephenson, Sarah Walker, Martha Huddleston, Margaret Mitchell, (daughter of former sheriff Guill Mitchell), Ruth Gossett, Billy Bowen, Phillip Daugherty, Barbara Aydelott, Eleanor Aydelott, Jimmy Harber, Peggy Brown, Joy Coleman, Helen Parham, Charles Thompson and many others. Teachers included Marc Nickells, Sarah Jones Tiller, Mrs Pearl Field, Mrs Cora Moore, Mrs Emma Nicks, Mr. T. J. Rogers, Mr. Brown Breece, Mr R. E. Bruner, Mr Cecil (Coach), Mrs Grady Carouthers and Farris Harmon.

All of the high school kids from Wrigley gathered each morning in the Commissary to wait for the school bus, driven by Mr. Wes Primn, to pick them up for the daily trip to Centerville. Back in those days the bus route didn’t include every little side road. Lots of kids had to walk a considerable distance to catch the bus. I walked from our home up Mill Creek Road to Highway 100 every morning and back every afternoon. Many times I would walk all the way on up to the Wrigley Commissary and to wait for the bus with all the Wrigley kids. It picked us up between 7:00 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. in the morning, and brought us home about 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon.